Manchester Stone (This Week’s Movies)

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Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea (Claire Folger/Roadside Attractions and Amazon Studios)

Links to my reviews published this week by the Herald and Seattle Weekly.

Manchester by the Sea. “A convincing portrayal of someone who just can’t get over it.”

Old Stone. “A cynical tale, with an especially poisonous bite in its final moments.”

Nocturnal Rules Allied (This Week’s Movies)

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Marion Cotillard, Brad Pitt: Allied (courtesy Daniel Smith/Paramount Pictures)

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Allied. “Glamour is part of the appeal – and also part of the movie’s game of asking whether a pretty face could be a mask for deception.”

Rules Don’t Apply. “It’s a relief to see a Hollywood film that doesn’t have anything to prove, or even a need to please—this feels like the least audience-tested movie in years.”

Moana. “The turquoise sea comes to life in all kinds of ways.”

Bad Santa 2. “Can’t help feeling like more of the same.”

Nocturnal Animals. “Finding the substance beneath those surfaces is not easy.”

The Love Witch. “Really knows what it’s doing. And it’s hilariously funny, sometimes in an almost subliminal way.”

Movie Diary 11/22/2016

The Love Witch (Anna Biller, 2016). The best thing about this amazingly-designed retro romp is that there’s an actual point to it. Witches and misogyny have gone hand in hand before, so Biller simply applies a varnish of zany Seventies kitsch and scores points in an especially sly (and funny) way. (full review 11/25)

Hidden Figures (Theodore Melfi, 2016). The travails of three African-American employees of NASA in the 1960s, bouncily portrayed by Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, and Octavia Spencer. Cornball at times as expected, but easy to like. (full review 1/6)

Old Stone (Johnny Ma, 2016). A downward spiral for a taxi driver, who aids an accident victim and lives to regret the good deed. (full review 12/2)

Movie Diary 11/21/2016

Dogs (Bogdan Mirica, 2016). The winner of the FIRPRESCI prize at Cannes this year is a taut picture with a No Country for Old Men vibe, as a city boy goes to a bleak countryside and finds that his inheritance comes with substantial strings attached, and that none of the customary rules apply. This was the strongest film I saw at the Romanian Film Festival in Seattle this year, but others were also good, such as:

Why Me? (Tudor Giurgiu, 2015). A Kafkaesque procedural inspired by a real-life case, about a prosecutor who finds the noose tightening around his own neck the more he investigates corruption. A well-paced downward spiral, played out in a series of cramped rooms.

Silent Wedding (Horatiu Malaela, 2008). A rural wedding celebration in Romania is halted by news of the death of Stalin, which leads to an attempt to carry on the party without making a sound. An ingenious idea for a movie, given a stylized treatment by the filmmaker (a legend of theater in Romania), and with a devastating shift in tone built into the concept.

Bad Santa 2 (Mark Waters, 2016). No real reason for a sequel to happen – in fact, many good reasons not to ruin the pleasant arc of the first film – but here’s Billy Bob Thornton in his signature role. The kid who played Thurman Merman is back, too. (full review 11/25)

Fantastic Loving (This Week’s Movies)

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Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton: Loving (courtesy Focus Features)

Links to my reviews published this week in the Herald and Seattle Weekly, and etc.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. “Lacks the coming-of-age resonance of the HP series, but this first chapter is good fun.”

Loving. “A dour, mumbling tone poem.”

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. “I sensed I was missing part of the experience.”

Ixcanul. “An age-old story is played out among the cinders.”

The talkers in Framing Pictures re-convene for a conversation at Scarecrow Video tonight, November 18. Join us for talk about new movies such as Arrival, Aquarius, Loving, Moonlight, plus a recollection of a French New Wave giant, cinematographer Raoul Coutard, who died last week. Check the FP Facebook page for updates.

This weekend I’ll be introducing Bogdan Mirica’s film Dogs at the Romanian Film Festival in Seattle; the fest is packed with intriguing titles from Romania and visits from filmmakers. Dogs goes Saturday at 1:05 p.m. and Sunday at 12:20 p.m., both at the Uptown theater. Lots more info here.

Movie Diary 11/17/2016

Moana (Ron Clements and John Musker, 2016). The new Thanksgiving Disney, and a presumed juggernaut, of course. One thing: Computer-generated water is really amazing these days. (full review 11/23)

The Old Man and the Sea (John Sturges, 1958). Saw this as a child on morning TV and not since – but certain images stayed all that time. Spencer Tracy is both right and wrong for the role of the fisherman (his narration – very close to the Hemingway original – is pretty good, but he overplays the part itself). The literary tour de force is the kind of thing that doesn’t really lend itself to film, unless you maybe cut the words altogether and go for a completely procedural visual approach (which is what All Is Lost is). Glad to be prepping a Hemingway talk.

Movie Diary 11/16/2016

20th Century Women (Mike Mills, 2016). A movie set in 1979 – and thus a favorite kind of movie – with Annette Bening as a single mom whose boarders include Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, and sort-of unofficially Elle Fanning. They’re all troupers. Many people liked this filmmaker’s Beginners, and they will probably like this, too. (full review 1/20)